I just received – maybe you did too – a spam email from amazon.co.uk entitled “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Pre-Order Your Copy Now!”.

I can understand what Amazon gains from this, but really, why would anybody bother?? This is a book whose print run is going to be really quite staggeringly massive: it will not be difficult to find a copy come publication date, in fact it will be almost impossible to avoid one. There are whole food groups which are going to be scrapped to create supermarket space for the thing. But even so here we are being asked to “make sure of” our copies.

Contrast the Glastonbury Festival, which is also available to pre-order: here we have actual scarcity value so the whole “intent to buy” thing makes sense.

I wonder if this is another example of people just not understanding the idea of rarity (or to be more exact, companies hoping people don’t understand it). Cf. the 1990s comics industry boom, which was – to be fair, only partly – built on persuading 12-year olds that because a whole lot of people want something it will go up in value.

Also of course it’s a bit of experiential marketing – if stores can persuade customers that pre-ordering their copy of HP7 is an integral part of the anticipation experience then they can coin it in. I suspect queueing at midnight dressed as a witch is a bit more atmospheric though.